When it comes time for music critics to choose their year-end top 10 lists, it’ll be no surprise to find England’s Daughter on many of them. The trio’s sophomore album, “Not to Disappear,” goes deeper and gets more personal than its acclaimed 2013 full-length debut “If You Leave.”
That’s no surprise considering that co-founders vocalist/lyricist Elena Tonra and guitarist Igor Haefeli broke up shortly after “If You Leave” was released.
“We really wanted to strive to make it work,” Tonra says of the band, which plays Neighborhood Theatre on Thursday and will be at the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival in Manchester, Tenn., next week.
“It was insane going on tour forever with your newly ex-person,” she says. “As nightmarish as it sounds, it’s just one of those things. We needed to make this album to know we can be the best of friends and still work together.
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“Everything we made together – from (recording) in his flat when we were both doing 9-to-5 jobs, coming home and making tracks together and going to bed and going to work – for it all to disappear was very sad, and we just didn’t want the band to disappear because of it.”
The trio, which also includes drummer Remi Aguilella, is spending the summer bopping between festivals in Europe and the U.S.
Daughter isn’t the first band to continue post-breakup. Some of music’s biggest commercial breakthroughs followed similar romantic uncouplings. (No Doubt, Riley Kilo and Fleetwood Mac spring to mind.) Tonra’s willingness to expose her heart and melancholy – whether it’s over sex, a broken relationship, or her grandmother’s dementia – gives Daughter’s fans something to relate to and bond with.
“I love when I listen to records and relate to songs other people have written. I don’t know what they wrote it about. I would be very honored if that was the case with my fans, if it relates to their own things too,” says Tonra, who counts learning those stories from fans through letters and after show conversations as “beautiful moments.”
“It makes you feel closer to other people. Kind to humans. A closeness to humanity,” she says.
Although initially labeled as “indie folk” (possibly due to Tonra’s early solo performances), “Not to Disappear” combines the subdued, somber vocals of fellow Londoners the XX with the intricate guitar landscapes of Texan rock instrumentalists Explosions in the Sky.
She explains Daughter’s sound as “the sound of three brains colliding.”
Those collisions are full of dynamics, with Haefelis’ meaty guitar as a counterpoint to Tonra’s gentle vocals on “New Ways,” Aguilella’s booming drum on “Numbers,” or subway train percussion on “No Care” playing off a soft guitar or cold vocal.
“Igor and Remi are like a lifeboat,” she says. “If my lyrics drag too deeply under the water, if everything is drowning, they lift (the song). When I’m playing a song and we kind of jam on it, or I send Igor a track – his brain works differently – he’ll lift something in the saddest part of the song.”
“If you lift it up musically, it makes it more emotional,” she says. “You have light and shade and not just constant sadness. I’d write a whole record of me just whining away. It’s not all doom and gloom. There are danceable elements.”
When: 8 p.m. Thursday.
Where: Neighborhood Theatre, 511 E. 36th St.
Details: 704-942-7997; www.neighborhoodtheatre.com.